What Are the 7 Basic Dog Groups?

 What Are the 7 Basic Dog Groups?

Each dog breed is specified by its traits, temperament, and personality. There didn’t use to be so many different breeds. Now there are over 400 breeds, with 360 officially recognized by the World Canine Organization (WCO) and only 195 breeds formally recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Because there are so many different breeds, they have been categorized into seven different breed groups.

What is a Group

Each of these groups is characterized by the breed’s temperament, traits, and the type of job they were bred to perform. The seven groups are Herding, Hounding, Terrier, Toy, Working, Sporting, and Non-sporting. Many of the dogs in the same group have similar physical characteristics or temperament traits.

Herding Group

Herding group dogs were bred to work with livestock such as sheep, cows, and even reindeer. They work closely with the farmer and run along the side, nipping at the heels of stray animals. These dogs are brilliant, and some have been used as search and rescue dogs because of their intelligence. In fact, dogs in the herding group have been classified as some of the most intelligent dogs. Dogs in the herding group are great with kids and other dogs but need plenty of exercise because they were bred to run in the fields all day.

Some herding group breeds are:

  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Border Collie
  • Collie
  • German Shepherd
  • Old English Sheep Dog
  • Shelti
  • Welsh Corgi

Hounding Group

As it says in the name, these are mostly the hounds. They were bred for the hunt with their long legs and incredible sight and smell. There are two kinds of hounds, sighthounds and scent hounds. Some dogs in this category are both sight and scent hounds. These dogs were bred to help find and catch larger game. They are also used as search dogs with their incredible speed and agility.

Some hounding group breeds are:

  • American English Coonhound
  • American Foxhound
  • Beagle
  • Bloodhound
  • Dachshund
  • Greyhound
  • Whippet

Terrier Group

The terrier group was first bred to go underground in pursuit of rodents. Their short legs and small bodies fit into some of the holes. Terriers with longer legs dug out the rodents and brought them back. If not trained properly, these Terriers could gain a bad habit of unwanted digging and incessant barking.

Some terrier group breeds are:

  • Bull Terrier
  • Hairless Terrier
  • Jack Russel Terrier
  • Rat Terrier
  • Scottish Terrier

Working Group

These dogs are hardcore workers. They are bred for different work, from pulling a sled in deep snow to guarding properties. These dogs have to be big and strong. Most of the working group has a hulky build and a lot of muscle. Most of these dogs are used as guard dogs and have to be able to empower whoever they need. Some dogs like Huskies and Samoyeds were bred to pull sleds, so they have a thick double coat. These dogs aren’t as heavy as the others because they have to be able to pull their weight and the weight of a heavy sled.

Some working group breeds are:

  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Boxer
  • Doberman
  • English Mastiff
  • Great Dane
  • Rottweiler
  • Samoyed
  • Siberian Husky
  • St. Bernard
  • Tibetan Mastiff

Sporting Group

Dogs in the sporting group were bred to help hunters with their game, whether on land in the air or the water. Dogs like Retrievers were used mainly for birds in the water, while Pointers, Setters, and Spaniels were bred to be in the fields. These two jobs were very different from each other.

The upland bird dogs or field hunters would find birds hiding in the tall grass. They would use different silent methods to let their partner know they had found a bird. Some dogs, like the pointers, would point their tail out and stare straight at the bird, sometimes lifting a front leg. The hunter would then use the “flush” command, and the dog would run toward the bird causing it to fly off, letting the hunter get a clean shot.

The wetland bird dogs (water dogs) would sit in the boat and wait until the hunter shot down a bird. Then they jump into the water and retrieve the bird. This job may seem simple, but the water during hunting season is cold, so most water dogs have a thick double coat. These dogs can also be used as upland bird dogs.

Some sporting group breeds are:

  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
  • American Water Spaniel
  • Brittany Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • English Pointer
  • German Wirehaired Pointer
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • English Setter
  • Irish Setter

Toy Group

These dogs are bred simply for the pleasure of humans. There is no real job for these dogs other than to look cute and cuddly. Some of these dogs were bred from the other groups. They would take the two smallest and breed them together to get toy versions of the dogs. For example, an adult Greyhound weighs about 60 – 70 pounds, while the Italian Greyhound weighs only 14 pounds. Dogs in the toy group are great for living in city apartments and small spaces.

Some toy group breeds are:

  • Chihuahua
  • Italian Greyhound
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Maltese
  • Pomeranian
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Toy Manchester Terrier

Non-sporting Group

The non-sporting group has a wide variety of dogs because these are dogs that don’t fit into the other groups. These dogs are primarily companions but can be used for other things. For example, the dalmatian has a build like the sporting dogs or the hounding dogs, but they don’t fit into that group. These dogs were mainly bred to interact with people and be their companions.

Some hounding group breeds are:

  • Bulldog
  • Poodle
  • Dalmatian
  • American Eskimo Dog
  • Keeshond
  • Shar Pei
  • Chow Chow

These dog groups have helped to sort all the breeds by their intelligence, temperament, physical traits, and other characteristics. You can look at a group’s overall characteristics to decide what type of dog you want and then narrow it down. Using this, you can find the best dog breed that fits your circumstances and personality.



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